London (espnstar.com) - The fastest Indian in the world Narain Karthikeyan, has been stopped dead in his tracks a week before making his Formula One debut in Melbourne, Australia, after being banned from wearing his custom made crash helmet.
The 28-year-old was stunned to discover that his own government had decreed that the Jordan driver could not use his patriotic helmet Livery in F1, citing an existing 'flag code', that all Indian sport stars - including cricketers – are not permitted to use the 'Tricolour' on clothing or equipment.
"I have to follow orders," Sport Minister Sunil Dutt told a Pakistani newspaper.
Speaking to reporters in India, however, Karthikeyan said he was bemused by the latest events. "If that is what the government wants, it is their loss," he quipped. "We as sportsmen are only doing the country proud by performing well.
"I have the tricolour on my helmet, but I can probably sell that space to sponsors and make a lot of money. I love India and I am proud to be an Indian and that's what I want to portray. But if I can't carry the tricolour on my helmet, it is the government's loss."
A close friend of Karthikeyan was less than impressed, knowing that unlike cricket, Formula One was a global sport with a television audience rivalled only by the World Cup and the summer Olympics. He told espnstar.com exclusively that this latest decision by the Indian authorities was "ridiculous".